Tiong Lai to take over as MCA president?

By Leslie Lau, The Malaysian Insider

In the battle between Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek for control of MCA, one name has now emerged as a potential benefactor of the titanic struggle — Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

Liow, who is health minister and also MCA vice–president, has been singled out as the man Ong’s camp will nominate to fill the deputy presidency after Chua’s controversial sacking last week.

And speculation is now rife that Ong, under siege from within his own party, from Barisan Nasional (BN) partners and from allegations of abuse of power and graft, is prepared to resign as MCA president.

All major Chinese newspapers reported the plan to hand the reins of power over to Liow, in what is possibly a move by Ong’s camp to float the idea to the public.

It is also likely that by suggesting a transition plan, Ong is hoping to temper the rising momentum of support for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to remove him and back Chua.

Yesterday, reports emerged that Chua had scored a major coup by winning the tacit support of Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, the man he defeated for the party deputy presidency last year but who is highly influential in Perak.

Perak has a big number of party delegates and their endorsement is key to winning the battle for the party.

Since his sacking last week, Chua appears to have won the backing of supporters of two ex-presidents — Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik.

Supporters of the two ex-presidents, while not ardent backers of Chua, are said to be unhappy with what they see as the dictatorial and aloof style of Ong.

Besides the pressure from Chua, Ong is understood to be under severe pressure over the unrelenting attacks against him from Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, the BN Backbenchers’ chief.

Tiong has persisted in his claims that he had donated RM10 million in cash to Ong last year, and has demanded the MCA president open his own personal bank accounts for public scrutiny.

Ong has also admitted to taking free rides on private jets belonging to Tiong’s company, Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), the turnkey contractor of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) which the MCA president has now singled out for blame over inflated claims.